Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Election Woes

It's been awhile since I've posted; it has been such a crazy and long semester so far. However, I felt the urge to post about the upcoming election, having been struck with a slightly heightened sense of political fervor. Through this blog, I now officially announce my endorsment of the Democratic candidate for governor, Chris Bell. (Insert camera flashes, trumpet sounds, and perhaps a raised eyebrow of surprise here.)
I won't go into all the issues or my reasoning here (unless the people demand it, in which case I will happily oblige) because there are so many other sources of information, which are, perhaps, more reliable. I just wanted to write this to encourage anyone who might not have checked into the candidates simply because they haven't had the time, they're from Texas, and they usually vote Republican. Take a little extra time to form an opinion. It's rediculous that I have not talked with a single person who is content with Rick Perry as governor, and yet he's likely to still win this election.
Chris Bell's website is decently helpful, as he has his stance on a variety of issues listed conveniently in a side bar. I'll throw in a link to Kinky's website for entertainment value. Sure, I'll even let you borrow the debate I have recorded.
That concludes my public service announcement for this week. Vote!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Shoes to fill



Real life has now hit me at full force. Like a frying pan in the face. School is back in session (boy, is it ever) and I have lots of different shoes to fill.
The newest pair are the hard-core journalist shoes: sensible and stylish. Must appear appealing, or at least interesting to the average college-age student while maintaining some sort of self-respect. Able to make quick turns for new deadlines and story ideas, and durable enough to withstand a few scrapes and mishaps when sources refuse to return phone calls.
Second pair: practical and mature teacher shoes. Comfort is a necessity when sitting through 3 hour classes taught be ex-elementary teachers who repeat "Teach, don't tell!" like broken records. Or parrots. Or parrots who ate broken records.
Pair number three: the bilingual advocate shoes. These are a broad range of colors made from a variety of different leathers in order to ensure that no one is offended by the fact that I have different shoes than they do. The labels on these are in both English and Spanish, and when I'm not wearing them I have to carry a picture of them around with me lest someone forget that they exist.
Pair four: my cheerleader tennis shoes. I know, it's shocking, but it really is fun following my brother around, taking pictures of him like he's a celebrity. If only I had been able to be this excited about high school football when I was actually in high school. Ok, back to the shoe imagery: able to withstand sporadic jumping, with balance-enhancing inserts so that I don't fall through dangerous bleacher gaps.
Pair five: The heels that I wear with my A-line skirt, apron, and pearls while I cook dinner for my husband... Ok, so these shoes don't exist. Poor Cory is doing most of the cooking these days. (And getting quite comfortable in his photographer's shoes, as is apparent with the above photo.) Ah well, this way I can have time to occasionally put on my real life "sneakers" (as he calls them) and go for a run.

The semester really has started out well, and I'm excited to be able to do all of these different things. I feel like I'm getting to try things that truly interest me, and all the possiblities for a year from now, when I'm a graduated adult, are so exciting. Now if only I could narrow down the actual number of shoes in my closet to only five...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Aw, no, Emmitt!

There's a picture of me that pops into my head everytime I think of 5th or 6th grade that makes me cringe a little but has come to represent the early years of my middle school existence. It was an actual photograph taken of me and a classmate after we had just won some type of science award. The classmate would later become over 6 ft tall and a lineman on the high school football team. However, in the picture I am a full head and shoulders taller than him, with frizzy permed hair and some missing eye teeth. I'm also sporting a Dallas Cowboy's jersey. I was just coming out of my tom-boy phase but was reluctant to give up the Cowboy's jersey because this was right around the time that I actually got to go to a pro football game. My dad was a big Cowboy's fan, and thus I was as well, and I think I watched more football games those few years than I ever had before or since. I remember feeling a little star-struck when my dad took us to the game- it was a playoff game against the Cardinals-and although they looked tiny from where we were sitting, I couldn't believe I was watching the real Troy Aikman, the real Emmitt Smith playing before my very eyes.
And now, I'm feeling a similar sense of awe, compacted with painful dismay and a vague tinge of betrayal. Emmitt is going to be performing for a different team, trading running and tackling for hopping and twirling. He's going to be a cast member on Dancing with the Stars. Go ahead, slap your hand to your forehead and release an exasperated 'doh!' in the manner of Homer Simpson. Why, Emmitt? Are you addicted to fame and stooping to any level to get it? Have you not made enough money?
Perhaps, just as he contributed to the awkward tom-boy phase of a jr. high girl, he feels he must also contribute to the awkward (and painful) reality tv phase of this country. All I can say is "Aw, no, Emmitt!"

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hidden

I'm reading a book by Brain McLaren called The Secret Message of Jesus which has been much-needed fuel for my thoughts. In it, he explores a topic which I have thought about several times and given me a new light on it simply by asking questions.
Whenever I would read through the gospels, I would always get a different picture of Jesus than the one I got at church or the one I got discussing him with others. In that picture, Jesus is kind, patient, loving, accepting...and He is all of these things. But when I read about Him, I can't help but feel like He's a little tricky or unclear- always answering questions with questions or some story that I would try to decipher. I just wanted to yell, "Why can't you just give it to me straight?" I knew that I loved Jesus because of who He is and what He did; I just wasn't sure that if I had met him in person that I'd like him very much.
Let me give you an example. Jesus is at a well and asks a Samaritan woman for a drink. Samaritans are considered "unclean" by the Jews, so I could understand that Jesus is crossing great cultural boundaries here. I think that if I were that woman, I would have been equally suprised that He was speaking to me, and I'd like to think that I'd give Him the water He asked for. But upon his next comment, "If you knew who I am, you'd ask me for living water," I'd be perplexed. My thoughts would probably be:
a) Is he trying to sell me some sort of fancy water-filter machine? or
b) Is that some sort of vague pick-up line?

McLaren asks in his book:
"What could possibly be the benefit of Jesus' hiddenness, intrigue, lack of clarity, metaphor, and answering questions with questions? Why risk being misunderstood- or not understood at all? If the message is so important, why hide it in evocative rather than techincal language?
How would you answer those questions? And how do your answers relate to you experience right at this moment, as a person reading this book? And how do they relate to me as I write these words? Am I trying to be clear? Direct? Or hidden? Or a mixture? What difference does it make?"
I'm not sure what the answers to all of these questions are, but I do know that if Jesus' message was given to me directly and simply that my human nature would want to turn it into a step-by-step formula. I would do these certain things to get these certain results and never ponder the mysteriousness or the captivating nature of Jesus.
On one hand, Jesus does give it to us simply. Love. That is the heart of his message, both hidden and explicit. On the other hand, he gives it to us in stories and metaphors, in poetry and parables, to give us the freedom to creatively love one another. There's no one single way to love every person, so He gives us examples and brains and hearts to try to do it uniquely and specially.
Jesus can be tricky to understand, and never receiving a straight answer can be frustrating. But He creatively answers our questions to keep us engaged and enamored. He met the Samaritan woman where she was living, in terms she could understand. By the end of their conversation, she understood that He was the Messiah and scurried away to tell others. The one thing He consistantly makes clear is that He loves people, all people, and He'll help us understand the rest in time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Feliz Cumpleanos al amor de mi vida! Espero que tengas un cumpleanos fabuloso. Que es mejor que un cumpleanos? Un cumpleanos con fajitas y postre! Mmm.. que rico, no?!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Family Football

I know I've talked about sports a lot lately, but I promise not to mention Zinedine Zidane, if that makes you feel any better. No, today it's about football (the American kind) played the way I like it best: by 8-year-old girls. My parents have been in Vegas the past few days, so Cory and I have been the substitute care-givers. Like any good adult, when one of my sisters asks when I'm going to make dinner, I respond with, "Why don't you go outside and play?"
We played a few different games throughout the week with Cory as the all-time quarterback. Having a different sister on my team completely changed the strategy each time. Bailey gets right down to business. She wants to "go far" on each play. After she explains the plan to us, Cory recaps by saying, "Ok, so Bailey's going deep and Jess is going for a short pass. Ready?" She looks at him with a blank, don't-talk-fancy-football-terms-with-me stare and replies, "So I'm going far?" Far. Right. When Cory's pass get's hung up in the tree at about mid-field, she screams at our quarterback, "What kind of a pass was that?!" This girl means business.
With Andrea on my team, it's a completely different game. Although she is just as concerned about scoring, she makes every play as fancy as she can. If the ball hasn't changed hands at least 4 times, we're not trying hard enough. I fought to keep a straight face when she was explaining the play to me: "Ok, I'm gonna spike it to you and you're going to throw it to me. Then you run back up and I'll hand it to you. If we still have time, I'll run back and forth in front and block the other team while you score a TOUCHDOWN!" As she says this, she holds it out until she runs out of breath and bobs her head menacingly at the other team.
After two touchdowns each for both the Ball Babies and the Hot McChicks, Bailey and Lacey are starting to get rough. They've talked too much smack ("We're going to change our names to the Hotter Mc Chicks because we're way better than you!" "Oh yeah, well, we don't have to change our names to be cool!") and now they're both mad. When the shouting match turns to shoving, I have to step in as the responsible mediator. "If y'all are going to start fighting, then we're not going to play anymore."
Lacey storms into the house, but the twins appeal to my competitive side, "We can't quit now. The game's tied! Someone has to win!"
I look at Cory, a little bewildered, thinking, "They're right! Of course someone has to win." I start to give in but magically the resonable side overcomes the competitive side, and I stick to my guns. "Nope, sorry....Last one in the house has a stinky face!"

Friday, July 07, 2006

Lessons and Reflections

We've been back in the States for a week now, and the Guatemalan experience is already seeming distant. It seemed wrong to just leave the experience hanging as is, so I wanted to reflect on some of the things that I learned:

  • Slough it off: Everyone has something to say about the United States, the president, or the policies, and usually it's not flattering. Inside the U.S. I usually am happy to hear any sort of political opinion, and applaud the fact that someone has actually cared enough to pay attention to what's going on in the world. Even if I don't agree, I can usually acknowlege their standpoint and relate my own. In Guatemala, I was surprised by my defensiveness, about how quickly I could become indignant that someone was criticizing my country. It took me several conversations to finally get it right, but I learned to slough it off and take it in stride. People are frustrated, and need someone to listen to their concerns- especially on issues they feel they have no control over. I wanted them to know that the US occasionally does helpful things, and that the president does not consult me with his decisions, so I don't know why he did this or that. Usually, they weren't trying to attack me personally and instead were genuinely interested in what I had to say. I had to learn that it wouldn't hurt me to apologize for the sins of the United States that I had inherited simply for being born here. As long as I could avoid becoming defensive, the conversation usually progressed and turned in a different direction, and we could go on being friends. ("There, now we can be friends again." -Doc Holiday) (Speaking of friends, my friend Nate put into words what I felt then, and you can check out his blog here.)
  • I'm a sissy. I felt pegged in a stereotype that I normally try to avoid: The spoiled rich arrogant ignorant American. I don't know if anyone else thought this of me, but I thought it of myself more times than I'd like to admit. Sometimes I fancy myself rather hard-core, and I think I might be able to kick it in a third world country for awhile, bringing food or clothes to the poor or advocating some similar noble cause. But I whined like a baby when I didn't have hot water. When I did have warm water, I showered as fast as I could, knowing that it would run out at any moment. It was like a game we played, me and the shower.
  • Size is relative. We all know that everything's bigger in Texas. I had just never applied that saying to my actual person. I'm about 5' 7'' which I think is pretty average for a girl in the states, but in Guatemala, I was a giant. Cory and I couldn't even walk side by side on the sidewalks because they were so narrow. It was like being in some alternate universe...or back in junior high.
  • Futbol! I'm pretty excited that I was forced into the World Cup culture. I picked Italy to win early on, for no reason other than Italian is my favorite food, and now they are in the finals. However, I wouldn't call myself a sports aficionado just yet as I always seem to miss it when a team makes a gooooool. I get distracted when the players are just running around or flailing about on the ground in hopes of a card. I do have enough sense to pay attention when they're kicking penalty shots, though, so I've got that going for me.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Babies, etc. (told mostly by Cory)

We have settled into the hotel, and are now just piddling about Antigua. Just so everyone knows our plans, we fly out from here at 9:20 on Wednesday morning and get to Dallas at around 12:30. Please pray for our travelling, as the rainy weather has picked back up again. I´m not sure when we will get home exactly. We are planning to hang out with Dad and co. for a few days, and I figure we´ll make it back home on either Saturday or Sunday.
Sunday we were eating brunch at this cafe, and the most interesting thing happened. These three American women come in with two Guatemalan babies. Then several more come in, and a few more. Eventually there were about 12-15 adults and about 8 little adopted guatemalan babies sitting at the table next to us. We kept thinking, "Could this be a sign?" Jessica gets in a conversation with one of the new moms about adopting in Guatemala and receives lots of good information. The mom was very nice and insisted I hold Baby Sedona because " I need the practice". On top of that, at school we visited with 2 sisters from Iowa who come from a family of 14 children, some adopted, some not. Needless to say, we´ve received lots of adoption information in the last few days.

SMALL WORLD

So last Friday I was wandering around Antigua exploring while Jessica was in class. I happened to turn down one street in search of this one restaurant decorated with the Beatles and other British odds and ends, that we had walked by one night. Who did I run into but Chris Rickwartz. Chris was at McMurry my freshmen year and was a youth minister in Levelland for a while, before moving away. He was in Guatemala with a group of students working on a water system in a little village. How about that.
We´ll see you guys in a few days!

Friday, June 23, 2006

School´s out Forever...

Today we celebrated the last day of class with an intriguing game of Scrabble and a free cuba libre. Scrabble in Spanish is extremely difficult, but we played in pairs. Really, I should say that the teachers played against each other while we students watched and cheered. I really wasn´t much help. Towards the end of the week, especially in the afternoon, everyone gets tired of studying and tries to find ways to avoid it. Yesterday several students and teachers gathered around a plant in the garden to watch a flower bloom. Seriously. These flowers are, apparently, like the morning glory in that they only last one day. They are all twisted up in a bundle and all of a sudden they spring forth into a full flower. It was actually pretty interesting, but I sat there leerily, wondering if the teachers were trying to play a trick on us.
So what now, you ask. Well, Cory and I are going to say our goodbyes to the house family on Sunday and spend our last few days in a hotel. Our travelling plans fell through, but we thought we´d enjoy a place with some consistant hot water for a few days. We´re going to see the remaining sights of Antigua, and eat in all the restaurants that we have been passing by and gazing in longingly. I´m pretty sad that the trip is almost over, but we are getting excited about coming home. So please post your party plans in the comments section, and Cory and I will be attending whichever party seems the most appealing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tour de Antigua

We just got done with a bike tour with the school. It was interesting we actually had an escort, a s-10 pickup with a siren on top led the way. We had fun. But none of us inquired about the specifics on this tour. We assumed (I know what happens when you assume things) that it was around (in) Antigua, but in fact was around (surrounding pueblos) Antigua and took about 2 hrs. We saw some amazing views and interesting sites. One unexpected event while we were in one of these pueblos was a funeral procession coming at us, forcing us to pull over and wait. The procession reminded me of the Godfather, it even had a little band following along. It had been along time since I´d felt that out of place, standing there in my shorts and T-shirt while all of these mourners were walking by. It was pretty fun all in all. But after 2 hours on a bike we are a little saddle sore.

Cory

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Monterrico

More pictures! Monterrico was a lovely little paradise away from all the rain. It wasn´t without a few adventures, though:

(I don´t know how to turn the picture the other way. If anyone has any suggestions let me know.) Our room was without airconditioning, but it was semi open-air. It had a thatched roof, but the walls didn´t go all the way up to the ceiling. I think that was so air could circulate better, but we had to sleep under this mosquito net to keep from being eaten alive. It was worth it though, to be able to hear the waves singing us to sleep.


This is the ferry that drove us across the river. I had been on a drive-up ferry before, but never one this small. The guys were very efficient, though, and we were across in just 5 minutes!


Ah, the black sand beaches. The surf was really rough, and we didn´t get in above our waists for fear of the current. I don´t think I´ve ever seen waves this big, and that´s saying something since I really am quite the body-surfer. I was missing Surfin Stumpy at this point.


The hotel and restaurant were owned by an Italian couple, which made it fun to talk about the World Cup. (Italy played the US on Saturday.) I kept wanting to talk to them about the Sopranos or how ¨Luca Brazzi sleeps with the fishes,¨but I didn´t think they´d be impressed, and I resisted.
Now for the adventures: Cory saved me from a scorpion that was hanging out on our bathroom wall waiting to pounce on me at the first possible second. I could tell he was a menace by the look in his beady little eyes...( the scorpion, not Cory.)
Also, we tried to book a boat tour around the marsh with a small man from a hotel just down the beach. He said the best time to leave was at 6 am, just before sunrise because that´s when all the animals are out. I set my alarm, and we stumbled out of bed and down the beach accordingly. We had to wear long sleeves and pants so that the mosquitos wouldn´t bother us on the marsh, and we were quite hot and sweaty by the time we arrived. When we got to the other hotel, it was still quite dark... too dark in fact. Cory looked at his watch and realized that it was actually only 5 instead of 6. I had inadvertently changed the time on my watch while setting the alarm. Probrecitos! We trudged back dejectedly to the hotel in the dark, and I started to get frightened that we were alone on the beach in the dark. (I know my parents are shaking their heads in fervent agreement.) Then I thought I heard something splash in the water, and I turned, startled, to look. Then I reasoned to myself, ¨That´s silly, everyone knows that Guatemalans are scared of the water...Oh wait, no, that´s hobbits.¨ (I am currently reading Lord of the Rings which Garrett so kindly left for me, and am obviously having trouble distinguishing fiction from reality.) We were so put out by the whole thing that we decided to skip the actual boat tour altogether and go back to bed. (Well, I went back to bed while my gallant and noble husband returned to the hotel to tell Elias, the small Guatemalteco, that we weren´t coming.)
The rest of the day we swam in the pool and walked down the beach. We enjoyed the Italian food, and we had almost the whole beach to ourselves. The huge waves were really amazing, and we often just sat staring into the ocean and watching the spray fly into the air. The shore, for the most part was clean, but bits of trash washed up during high tide. As we walked, Cory kept sort of a running commentary, ¨Oh look, there´s a toothbrush...there´s a coconut....there´s a shoe, I think it might fit you... oh wait, no, that´s a small life raft from a ship.¨ Lovely.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Irwinless

Today the lovely Irwins have left us to return to the grand and glorious Texas. I am lamenting that I no longer have someone to remind me, ¨Jess, what are you really going to remember in 10 years: going to a cafe to watch the World Cup with a bunch of crazy Europeans/Guatemalans, or staying here and studying?¨ But we had a grand time the last few day finding cafés after dinner for dessert or wine or sangria. For our final Irwin send-off we went to a fancy hotel and had dessert in the restaurant there, that was lit mostly by candle light. It was really lovely until we had to slaunch back in the rain. (The rain, if you couldn´t tell by Cory´s entry, is starting to get to us. Our towels never dry, and some of our clothes actually soured a bit. Luckily we noticed by the stench in our room that we should take the clothes to the lavanderia.)
We are almost to the end of our third week of classes, though, and I´m starting to have dreams about crazy Spanish gameshows. I haven´t even watched a bit of tv here (well, except for a few World Cup games), so the gameshows are completely the results of my imagination, and really wouldn´t be that exciting in real life. In the latest dream, I had to choose between 3 doors, each labeled with a section of Spanish grammar. I don´t think I even won anything exciting for answering the grammar question right. Man, I´m getting lame.
The weekend looks promising, though. Tomorrow we are having a big fiesta at the school for Día de los Padres, and we get free food and drinks. Then, if everything goes as planned, we are headed to the black-sand beaches of Monterrico on Saturday. We´re staying busy, but I can´t say that we aren´t a little homesick for all of you guys. However, we will perservere. Got...to...cram...more...Spanish!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Weekend in Antigua




I´ve finally got some pictures up for you guys. The first two are from Volcán de Pacaya, and the last one is from our trip to the Women´s Coop that we wrote about earlier where they dressed us up in typical Mayan Wedding dress.
Our trip to the volcano was exceptional, one of the top five most amazing things I´ve ever done. Let me start with how this whole trip began. Cory and I had been wanting to climb a volcano, and I thought we might get a better price from the travel agency if we booked a whole group to do it. So, I talked to some other students at our school to see if they wanted to go, and before I knew it, I was in charge of planning a trip for 9 of us. I´m not sure how I was elected leader/event coordinator, but I was bustling about trying to collect money and find a good travel agency. It was really pretty stressful, and people started thinking they could ask me to book the rest of their trips in Guatemala. Oy! The travel agencies should start hiring me out.
We payed $12 per person for transportation, a guide, and security. The guide was a small Guatemalan man with a gold tooth and the security was the machete on his hip. Samuel, the guide, was very helpful and nice, and he answered all our questions about eruptions, lava, and poisonous sulfuric gases. (Plus he had a Texas A&M hat. Pretty good, eh Bub?) The hike to the top was about an hour and a half, and it was so nice to be away from the city. The trees, foliage, and view were all beautiful. We didn´t go to the very top, as we might have been boiled into a bubbly human stew if we had. We got plenty close to flowing lava (like 20 ft.!) and climbed atop igneous rock formations. One girl from Australia commented, ¨This is so Middle Earth!¨
We´ve been enjoying the rest of weekend in Antigua with Garrett and Lori, since this is their last weekend here. We got to go to this super swanky restaurant the other night that had a live Cuban jazz band. We ate fancy dishes like duck and bananas flambé. Other than that, we´ve just been plotting ways to get rich by selling t-shirts to tourists. All in all, a good weekend.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Rain

We knew that June was the start of the rainy season here in Guatemala, but I guess knowing and experiencing are two very different things. It has been crazy this week. At some point between 2-4 it starts to rain and usually continues well into the night. I don´t know but this might be what it´s like to live in Seattle, except without all the Starbucks and a few other small differences I´m sure. So we have not done much this week with all the rain, we played a little cards with the Irwins (who have saved our lives because they are so prepared and have rainjackets and umbrellas, so they have loaned us one of their umbrellas so we each have one). We went to a really cool restaurante last night, but I´ll let Jessica talk about that. I played soccer again this week (in the rain of course), I´m fairly sore but scored my first two international goals. I know what your thinking and yes there was a goalie, sure she was only around 5 ft. tall but let´s not get caught up on details here. And world cup began today, so school was stopped to watch the game. Oh and to answer the moms´volcano questions there are three right around Antigua, one is active. But it´s not a big deal apparently (of course that´s what they probably said in Pompeii) it last erupted in 2002 I think. Well that´s about it we have an exciting Saturday ahead but I won´t tell you about it so you´ll be eagerly awaiting the next post.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lago Atitlan

Whew, what a trip! It definitely had it´s ups and downs (and if you saw the roads, you´d know what I mean.) We took a shuttle for about 2.5 hours and arrived at Pana in the rain. We booked our hotel based on the information we had in the travel book(*which has been dead on to this point): it was a mid-range hotel with a balcony and lake view, a fire place, and room for four. And it was true, the room had all of these things, but it also had a leaky ceiling, scraggley towels (that I´m pretty sure had been used and not washed) and a shower that spewed brown, sulfur-smelling water. Needless to say, we were a bit disappointed, but managed to spend the night there and find another hotel for a bit more money the next day(* the room was clean though and the mayan man who worked there was quite nice).
The lake was gorgeous and we took a private boat across it to two other pueblos called Santiago and San Pedro. We shopped and walked about the streets and enjoyed the scenery. (The lake is surrounded by about 4 volcanos.) The boat dropped us off at Hotel Atitlan where we ate a lovely lunch of hamburgers and chicken sandwiches and we strolled in the absolutely fabulous garden. There were fountains and flowers and those bush things carved into animals. (I took lots of pictures for you, Swigs.)
And now the best part: dinner at a Tex-Mex restaurant called Al Chisme(* the book told us about this place) (which roughly means the gossip or through the grapevine). We were all talking about how we missed Rosas and flour tortillas and cheese. The owner was a woman from Houston, extremely nice, and willing to make us anything we could think of. And just when I thought it couldn´t get any better, Lyle Lovett came on the speakers and I saw the $2 margaritas on the menu. *All the furniture was texasish oak and there was a picture of willie on the wall. We were all giddy with the memory of Texas. Is it possible to miss it after only one week. Yes. Yes, it is.
We spent the rest of the trip shopping and avoiding the rain. The trip home was fairly frightening because the driver wasn´t from our travel agency but insisted he had been sent to pick us up and then he was talking to another passenger about stopping in Chichicastenago, which is in the opposite direction from Antigua. However, we did actually make it to our correct bus and also the correct stop after lots of turns, fog, and nausea. I was trying to think of how to say ¨I think I might vomit,¨ in Spanish but I could only come up with, ¨I think I might toss my cookies.¨ I´m not sure if that´s the same phrase in Spanish. But we got ¨home¨ successfully and soothed our weary stomachs by eating at a cafe called Queso y Vino.
Just for future notice, try not to mention Rosa´s in your emails or comments because Cory and Garrett might cry. :)
All * denote additions made by Cory. The travel book is great and we are much obliged to Cody for sending it our way.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Wedding

I was going to wait and post again when we got back from Atitlan, but a few things of interest have happened since then. Yesterday we went on our first excursion with the school to a nearby town called San Antonio. We visited a women´s cooperative there, where the women of Mayan origins get together to sell their handmade purses, blankets, table clothes, etc. When we arrived, we learned about the history of the cooperative, how women´s rights were beginning to expand and how it was a priviledge to be able to work and earn money for themselves. They also talked about the dresses they wear, and what each color symbolizes. (You´ve probably seen these type of dresses before, they are very colorful and they look very heavy. The indigineous people wear them.)
When the lecture was over, they asked Cory and me to come to the front and model the typical dress of a Mayan. They wrapped me up in this heavy skirt and blouse, and put a veil and beaded tiara on my head. They clued me in, ¨We´re going to have a wedding.¨ They dressed Cory in a black cloth suit and put a staw hat on him. Another girl was asked to be the ¨mother in law¨and she threw flower petals at us while we knelt on the floor. Everyone was laughing at us and taking our picture, and we just kinda stood there like the trained models that we are. They asked the ¨mother in law¨to say a blessing, and she said, ¨May you live long lives together and have 20 children!¨ Oy! I´m not sure if that was a blessing or a curse. We have pictures of the whole event, and I´m going to try to find a place where I can download them soon. I guess since our anniversary is Sunday, we got to renew our vows!

La Manifestacion
There has been a buzz all over Antigua about this ¨manifestacion.¨We were a bit confused at the terminology, but we eventually figured out that there was going to be a protest in Antigua this morning. All the stores, banks, restaurants, etc. closed and the employees met in the central park to demonstrate. Cory´s been all excited about it- he couldn´t wait to go and take pictures. They were protesting violence (everyone can protest violence!) and demanding a better police force. We convinced our teachers to take us to the beginning of it, and Cory got ready to take some pictures of the signs people were holding. However, to his grave disappointment, he had taken the batteries out to charge and left them at home. Que lastima!
Another interesting thing is that we are so much taller than the Guatemalans. The sidewalks here are pretty narrow, so it can be a humorous affair when we are trying to walk altogether with the Irwins south. On the way to the protest, Cory and I were walking on the street, and our teachers were on the sidewalk, which is several inches higher. We were still taller than them! Last night we were on our way back home around 10, and it was dark outside. We get a little paranoid in the dark, but apparently we aren´t the only ones. There was a Guatemalan guy walking in front of us, who kept looking back at us in terror. We felt bad because he lived on the same street that we did, so we followed him, inadvertantly, for several blocks. We could tell he was getting really nervous that the giant Americans were going to beat him to a pulp and take all his quetzales!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Culture Shock, Ramblings From Jessica´s esposo

We got more than we bargained for as far as culture. Our school is full of various nationalities, fortuately they all speech english, but it has been an adjustment relating to them all the same. Many europeans as well as Americans from the north east, they have been somewhat worried at the increasing number of Texans, as they should be. It has been an unexpected and pleasant surprise that I´ve enjoyed being able to interact with them. I was talked into playing soccer yesterday (if you´re asking yourself "does Cory play soccer?" the answer is no) because they were short a player. So here I am with a group of europeans, guatemalans and a few other americans who have played soccer, I basically ran around trying to get the ball and then got rid of it as soon as possible. It was fun and had a chance to pretend like a knew the first thing about the upcoming world cup. School is fun but tiring- we are both improving quickly, I think, and having a great time with Garrett and Lori ( Irwins South). This weekend we are going to a large lake named atitlan and will have various adventures there. Hope everyone is well and don´t worry Jessica will be posting next. -Cory

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bienvenidos al Antigua

We made it! The plane ride was wonderfully smooth- thanks everyone for praying for us. It was rainy when we landed in Guatemala, but we were able to fly around the storms. Our house is fabulous! It´s kind of dorm-style, with all the rooms only accessible through an open air courtyard that is filled with gorgeous flowers and foliage. We met Garrett and Lori on Sunday morning for brunch and they guided us around the city. The families don´t cook for us on Sundays, so we got to try out a few of the restaurants, and today is our first day to get to eat with the family and study at the school. There are 3 other students in our house, two are Dutch and one is German, but we all speak English (even the mom of the house, but she is very good at trying to make us all speak Spanish to her).
My Spanish is better than I thought it would be, and I talked to the house mom, Angelica, for almost a full half hour when we arrived. Cory is awesome- he understands almost everything we say, he just has trouble speaking back. I think he was wondering what I got him into at first, but he seems to be enjoying himself this morning at the school. It´s pretty nice to have Garrett and Lori here, as they serve somewhat as our own personal tour guides. They´ve got everything figured out already, and we´ve had fun galavanting about the city.
The weather is beautiful. It rains in the afternoons or evenings, but the sun is shining otherwise and there is a cool breeze. It is almost the perfect temperature, and none of the buildings have air conditioning because they don´t really need it. Antigua is nestled in the middle of several mountains/volcanos which provide not only a beautiful view, but also help us with orienting ourselves in the city.
Thanks for your comments and encouragement- keep em coming! Let us know what all is going on with you guys!

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Journey Begins

There's a knot in my stomach that's about 10 % nervousness/fear, 10 % anxiety, and 80% excitement. We're driving to Dallas today to spend the evening with my folks, and then we leave for Guatemala Saturday afternoon. In case you want to pray for us while we're flying, we'll be in the air from about 5:15 to 8:30 if everything is on time.
I'm feeling a bit sentimental, so I'm going to go with it. It's so amazing to me how this trip has worked out for us, and everyone has been so helpful. You've encouraged us, helped us financially, prayed for us, helped us plan, and kept us excited about this trip. Well, some of you just looked at us with a crazy flash of fear in your eyes and swore to us that we'd get kidnapped or mugged.
It's funny the reactions you get when disclosing the fact that you're taking a vacation in Guatemala. If you announce that you're going to Hawaii or Europe or even Canada, you get "Wow, how exciting. You'll have a great time." When you declare you're going to Antigua, you get a perplexed twisting of the face and a blunt "Why?"
Because we want to learn Spanish.
Because we'll get to experience a new culture.
Because there are trees, and water, and Mayan ruins, and coffee plantations, and volcanos.
Because it feels like an adventure.

Hopefully the next time I write, it'll be from Antigua, Guatemala. Can I get a whoop, whoop?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Dixie Chicks

I know everyone's been waiting to see what I have to say about the new Dixie Chicks album (released today). Really, though, most of you are aware of my love of the band, and the thought of debating the issue once again seems exhausting. They are getting so much media coverage that even I am getting tired of it. (See cover of Time, yesterdays episodes of the Today show and David Letterman.)
So, did I actually purchase an album which includes a song bashing my hometown?! Yes. Yes, I did. Does that mean I like Lubbock any less? Nope. I am happy to report that I can keep both Lubbock and the Dixie Chicks close to my heart.

If you're interested, you can listen to the entire album here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Miniature Mugging

I happened to catch a news story during my lunch hour today. Two grown men jumped out of a van, threw a small boy off his mini-motorcycle, put the motorcycle in the van and drove off. In Lubbock, Texas! I mean, you'd probably expect this sort of atrocity to happen in some third world country, but apparently children can't even play with their toys in peace in Texas. I think there is definitely some missing information in this story. It must've happened one of two ways:

1) One vital piece of information when considering this story is that no one saw it happen except for this boy, maybe 9 years old. He said, "They just threwed me off my bike, and I stood up and yelled at 'em. I said, 'I'm gonna call the cops!' and they said, 'Well, you just go ahead and do that then.'" With this bit of info, he could have easily made the whole thing up. I think he was bored, tired of dragging himself along his drive way atop such a small machine. He starts to plot a near-death experience in order to win himself a new and larger bike. He climbs the fence, throws the extra-tiny toy into the alley, and scrapes his knees on the way back over to his yard. He contemplates confessing the whole thing to his mom in order to get some simpathy for the injury, but his tears quickly turn to a deviant laugh as he realizes that it is the perfect completion to his plan. Only a bump on his head could make this scheme more believable. Mom comes running out of the house when she hears the racket of the boy slamming his own head against the wall. "Mom! You'll never believe what just happened!..."

2) The two guys were driving around, looking for jobs (they were obviously hard-up for cash, or they could've just bought their own mini-moto) and lamenting the price of gas these days. They turn the corner and see the answer to all their problems: a small vehicle, powered Flinstone style. The two men look at the boy, then at each other, and holler simultaneously, "Lets get 'im!" The boy only requires a small pounding, since he is less than 1/4 the size of one of them. They race home, goods in the van, laughing and slapping each other on the back.

Whew, it's true. Real life is stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

High Fidelity Style




Top 5 reasons why I should have a blog:

1. I can keep everyone updated when I'm in Guatemala for a month. This way I can aviod the hassle of mass emailing, and I can try to remember how to speak English occasionally.
2. Practice for my new journalism job- except that will be objective and this is mostly my opinion. And they're going to pay me.
3. Sometimes I take myself too seriously and think that what I have to say is really very important.
4. I needed somewhere to display the picture of me and my girls at Graceland.
5. All the cool kids are doing it.